The first quarter of 2009 is shaping up to be one of the most dismal financial performances since the early 1980s. If trends continue, things could get even worse. Unemployment is soaring, the stock market is sinking, and every economic indicator points to continued bad news.
Yet, even in the midst of some of the worst times I can remember, I haven’t seen one leading public figure in government or industry stand up and say that our country needs God’s help. Not one.
Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise us. For decades, our courts, politicians and educators have done everything they could to remove God from the public square. Our nation has ceased to acknowledge and worship God. We have arrogantly exalted ourselves, and we’ve come to believe we can fix every national ailment without God’s assistance.
Our current plight reminds me of the Prophet Jeremiah’s warning to Israel, a nation that was still enjoying relative prosperity but was on the brink of God’s judgment through the invasion of Babylonian forces.
Jeremiah issued the Lord’s stern rebuke: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
Their chief offense was that, in their comfort and ease, they had forgotten the God who had delivered them through the centuries, and instead relied on their own self-righteousness. They had forsaken the Source of all blessing and constructed a self-reliant society that was doomed to fail eventually.
That has a familiar ring, doesn’t it?
America was once a nation that honored and trusted God, albeit imperfectly. Many of today’s prestigious institutions of higher learning were founded by Christians, and precepts from Scripture were foundational for instruction. Presidents and national leaders embraced Christianity’s influence on civil matters, and God’s moral laws were encoded into our judicial system.
That godly heritage has been abandoned and rejected, and I believe we are paying the price today. Greed isn’t good. The lack of personal integrity has massive consequences. We’ve built a culture of our own making that is on the verge of destruction.
The answer is straightforward: “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding” (Jeremiah 3:22). The biblical scenario for personal and national restoration is always the same–confession of sin, repentance and renewed obedience to the Lord and His ways.
This is a time of testing for our country. Will we acknowledge our sin and turn back to God? Will we call on God for help in our hour of distress, or will we continue to further distance ourselves from His aid?
God always leaves room for repentance. He is patient and long-suffering. But there comes a time when He finally allows us to reap what we’ve sown. That will be a bitter harvest, one that I pray we will not experience.
Now is the time for believers to call on the Lord, confess our sin and be cleansed. Now is the time for the church to be salt and light in a dark season. If we do, perhaps God will move in mercy and grace to heal our land.
“‘For I am merciful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt’” (Jeremiah 3:12–13).